tv [untitled] April 9, 2013 4:30pm-5:00pm PDT
buena vista home would actually demolish or materially alter the physical characteristics that qualify the nearby homes to be historic resources in order to show that the addition at 61 1 were to adversely affect a historic resource. and i don't think that that showing can be made at all. it certainly has not been made here today. is there a question? >> supervisor wiener. following roberts rules. >> at what point would, if at all, if ever, changes to 61 1 be to such an extent it could -- if we assume there are potential resources, at what point could work to apprise them of that status? would it be 10 stories up, 5
stories up, 2 stories up, never? assuming that we didn't have zoning restrictions? >> okay. i believe it is a matter of degree and it would be somewhat a matter of judgment. but in my opinion, given the existing property lines, the house would have to go so far up, maybe at 10 stories. but i don't even see an architectural consultant at that point finding that the historicity, the original integrity of say the 601 building or the 615 would be undone. it would be different perhaps if this were designated as a historic district, which it is not. and the appellants' consultant have verified in the past that it is not a historic district. but even then the question would be does the addition here impair the district just like
it would impair the nature of the home nearby to the point that it cannot be eligible any longer to be a historic resource. and i just don't see how an addition to this house could meet that test. >> and then also the issue of the vista, which i imagine you were going to get to. i'll let you go at your own order. i just want to make sure you address the vista about talked about with ms. brandt holley and with the planning department. i will, thank you. >> thank you. the vista issue falls into what [speaker not understood] have primarily asserted the exception to the categorical exemption comes into play. and that exception requires that two things be shown. first, that there are here unusual circumstances different from the circumstances where most cat ex's apply, and secondly that substantial evidence is in the record, that there's a reasonable possibility of environmental impact flowing from those unusual circumstances.
unusual circumstances tend to be things like locating a landfill on top of a very delicate groundwater basin. appellants have not established unusual circumstances here. on the dreher contrary, the situation here is quite typical to other additions to single-family homes within the san francisco san francisco. ~ in fact once the third story is built 9 home will remain shorter than the profile of the surrounding home. as to the second prong of the test, the impact, appellants have not demonstrated that there are significant physical environmental impacts. the view arguments appear to focus on views from the street of the turret of the seemingly large home at 601 buena vista and supposed views of the ocean. i've actually not seen any photos of views at the ocean from buena vista park. so, that is not in the record. the home at 601 is -- well, the
planning commission -- there's been a lot of discussion of what happened there. the dined the planning commission did order that the front wall be pulled back another three feet. so as to make sure that folks on the street or in the park could still see the pretty turret which is a very nice turret at 601 buena vista. but it was very clear that mr sugaya said he would like to see some gesture made to the neighboring homes. not that there was environmental impact, but it was a design consideration that forced the home at 61 1 to be moved back. in my view, it would be a big stretch and, in fact, would create adverse precedent within the city to find that any time a portion of one building might be partially blocked from some vantage point on the sidewalk or elsewhere, that a significant impact would occur.
likewise, the home addition will not, in fact, impair ocean views from the park as can readily be seen from the photo evidence. and the photograph here in froth of you shows the existing home, the two homes on either side, clearly if -- you cannot see the ocean at this point and were a third story added, there would be no impact to any view. ~ front even if there would be some view blockage of the ocean, there is no c-e-q-a protection afforded to views from the sidewalk or the park. appellants have also argued that a shadow impact will occur. there is no such thing really under c-e-q-a as a shadow impact as private residences. and appellants try to rely on the portion of c-e-q-a that states that an impact may occur if the project would create a new source of light or glare. plainly creating light or glare is the opposite of creating a shadow. thus that argument is nonsensical. finally, appellants tray to characterize the residential
design guidelines of the city as a land use plan or policy adopted for the purpose of [speaker not understood] environmental effects. ~ try i don't believe that they rise to that level, but in any event, the project sponsor worked very intimately with the residential design team on altering the project to meet the guidelines and the planning commission did find that those presiding guidelines were satisfied. in any event, this is ayn c-e-q-a issue. it has been addressed through the dr. it will likely be addressed again at the board of appeals. the issues of concern here to the neighbors are not legitimate environmental impacts. they're design issues that have been fully vetted and addressed through the rigorous process and we urge you to uphold the staff valid determination. i'd like now to ask alder smith to be able to speak to the design. thank you, [speaker not understood] alder smith architect of the original project and currently of the addition in front of you.
i think just to start off, we should just call this thing what it is. these are neighbors who are unsatisfied with the proper dr process. they're basically getting a little bit of shadow on one building and they are losing some view from another one. call a spade a spade. anyhow, [speaker not understood], can you have this come up? thank you. as you know, this is what it was. this is what it is. i'm just going to take you through the process a little bit. the planning analysis that we did and which has been referred to shows a great deal of diversity all around buena vista park. it's every kind of building, every kind of height, every kind of setback. san francisco is pretty diverse, but it's very difficult verse right hire. you can just go all around the park and find every variation.
so, the claim there is some unique circumstance to this property is quite unfounded. i can just keep going with these as you can see. but probably the most extreme one which actually comes back to some of the stories is this julia morgan building which is quite historic and very big. but obviously we're not proposing anything like that. but i would like to show that -- sorry. let me finish real quick without showing. the key thing, though, is we went from a three-story edition, you can read it 2349 minutes. the neighbors had their dr problems which is normal. ~ what will make you happy, we reduce it had by one story, and they're still unhappy with that. referring to the deal that supposedly was crafted once upon a time, i was the architect. neither of those two neighbors even lived in those buildings. so, for them to claim that there was some deal is [inaudible]. and anyhow that sums it up. thank you. >> thank you very much. colleagues, any questions to
the party in interest? okay, at this time let's hear from members of the public if they wish to speak on the side of the project sponsor. if you could please line up on the right-hand side of the chamber. hello, president david chiu and members of the board of supervisors. i am stephanie, and this is martin. we are the homeowners at 61 1 buena vista. today we ask that you please deny the requested appeal that our project categorical c-e-q-a exemption. over the past two years we have cut, trimmed, recolored, setback and radically reduced our home addition to respectfully address concerns by our neighbors. the final design that was reviewed by the planning commission was done so because it is a respectfully designed addition that blends well into the neighborhood's architectural context. it's a straightforward project
that presents no unusual circumstances. please see this appeal for what it is. the neighbors don't want to work with us at this point. they want to stop the project period. and their approach to make this happen is to incrementally cutaway at the square footage and drive up costs and delays. we are [speaker not understood] this appeal before you today has no merit for a small project that meets all the guidelines of the categorical exempt project, has been through a vast amount of changes and negotiations to try and make the project suitable for everybody within the neighborhood, and has been approved by the city and planning commission. the issues raised have nothing to do with c-e-q-a and i ask that you deny this appeal. thank you. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> next speaker. sfgov, thank you very much. my name is ken [speaker not understood].
as cat pointed out, there was a sequence from different designs. we [speaker not understood]. now the story down to 3, changed [speaker not understood] the planning department and in respect of meeting with the neighborhood. and this one is the last design. you see the red dashed line which outlines the envelope which based on the code could be wilt on. and we always, always tried to have a design which is -- which doesn't copy an historic design. it is true to the time.
so, in different parts of the world there are these two sides you could argue. you have to copy to keep the whole context intact or just very clear different design so in future reference you know [speaker not understood]. i think it's a good process that the city creates a good tool for future process and i also walk around the park. and for the vistas, you have good views and these view don't even see the subject property. so, there's no impact from these vista points from the buena vista park. thanks. >> thank you. next speaker. members of the board of supervisors, i'm a homeowner in the buena vision that ashbury heights neighborhood, about a block and a half away from the
61 1 buena vista project. as a resident my wife and i have tracked the design process the last two years and believe that the final approved design is frankly terrific. i frequently walk in buena vista park with my children and almost always stop to admire the great architecture that lines this park. in fact, it's one of the reasons we moved to the neighborhood in the first place. we are lucky to have such a range of buildings around this park and is perhaps one of the best displays of san francisco architectural history where you can see victorianses next to an h. julia morgan building and modern wooden structures as well. in 2003 when the property at buena vista was remodeled, it turned it into a beautiful single-family home done with an abundance of taste of the lines of the property you see today and extends out as an example in the neighborhood. we therefore fully are in support of expanding this building vertically as we find the proposed addition to be the perfect accent to this existing
structure. in fact, as i mentioned earlier, this addition is in keeping with the tasteful and mixed actech -- architectural [speaker not understood] of the neighborhood. it adds enormously to the structural diversity in the neighborhood. we ask that the board of supervisors support this project and deny appeal to the categorical exemption status forcing a c-e-q-a review of a modest and beautiful addition could be a great disservice and this appeal is clearly designed to try to kill this project to escalate cost and delays to the homeowners and we very much against moving forward. thank you very much. >> thanks. next speaker. board of supervisors, my name is lucia [speaker not understood] and together with my husband i am a homeowner and resident in the buena vista and ashbury heights neighborhood.
we is fully support the 61 1 project and see no reason why the categorical determination should be reversed. nothing the appellants mentioned were on c-e-q-a review in the project. it concerns me greatly that neighbors can move the appeal process in this way to delay and drive up costs to individual homeowners especially when it is clear the homeowners of 61 1 buena vista have already remediated design aspects to address these concerns. as a resident of san francisco and this neighborhood, i applaud people who [speaker not understood] and i want the resources of such projects to go towards making the best highest quality, most beautiful remodel and not [speaker not understood] on delay tactics. what lucia was saying -- my name is kevin and i very much support the city's original finding for categorical exemption. we moved to the neighborhood about six years ago precisely because of the beautiful architecture and the fabric of the neighborhood.
we don't feel this house detracts from the beauty of the neighboring victorian. there is a beauty in a [speaker not understood] house and a beauty in a 10 or 1 year old house. as far as views from buena vista, i'm there every morning with my dog and our two young sons in a stroller. i walk that drive every morning and in no way does this block an oceanview that is so appreciable that it is a public asset. it simply fills in a small space that adds some congrewth to that little segment of the city. it's a wonderful home now and tremendous in the future. we enjoy all three of the homes. that's it. >> thank you very much. next speakers. hi, members of the board of supervisors. i live in the haight neighborhood and i visit buena vista park. many times i walk by the house
at 61 1 buena vista. i ask the board to deny [speaker not understood]. this is a small addition and one of the most beautiful homes in the area. it has no impact on the environment and even features green growth. the city should deny the appeal and not side with the appel apartments to exploit the city rules to protect their own private views and interests. i'm also very concerned about what your ruling today would mean for the small homes -- small homeowners like myself in the city. the cost to rehabilitate in san francisco is one of the highest in the country. often the best option for a young family already in possession of property is to do a small expansion of a home to make it more family friendly. this is the best time for homeowners and a benefit to san francisco, needs for more family friendly housing and for bringing young family in the city. the planning commission and the city has permitted the expansion of the home at 61 1
buena vista west, is a modest vertical addition under a living group. the [speaker not understood] is an attempt to stop the section by forcing an excessive application of cqu to a project that clearly falls under the guideline of a categorically exempt. ~ cqa almost every property is located next to historic structures and based on appeal before you. that's based on appeal before you today, the applicant should ask that every project in san francisco should have to go through the full ceqa everywhere. thank you. >> thank you very much. next speaker. hello, members of the board. my name is madelein. i am a native and own r of historical home here in san francisco [speaker not understood]. i'm speaking in support of 61 1 buena vista. as a homeowner, i value the
diversity and creativity of beautifully designed architecture from all eras. i live in a historical home and appreciate unique architectural features of my more modern neighbors. carefully designed architecture promotes the unique architectural features of adjacent building and the neighborhood even when the structures are from different eras. the proposed addition for 61 1 buena vista does exactly this by expanding on an award winning design that complements the architecture of its neighbors. this is a very modest project and as a property owner i am concerned about the possible removal of a categorical exemption for a project of such small stature on a nonhistoric building. the project meets all the legal guidelines of the categorically exempt project. if you, the board of supervisors, requires a full c-e-q-a evaluation on this small legally exempt project, i do not see how any project in
the city can be exempt. while i don't have plan to remodel my property, i fear the press department that would be set is the categorical exemption is overturned for this project. thank you. >> thank you. next speaker. board of supervisors, i had prepared comments, but i think all the technical points have been made so i'm now speaking as a homeowner in the neighborhoodv. what i hope is a rational citizen of the city. just listening to the arguments that have been made up to this point, i think we've now exceeded the limits of rational argument and turned a process that's thorough and constructive for the city into a mud slinging match between neighbors. i think it's unfortunate. i've seen projects go on in my neighborhood including next door to my house. they stretch out over multiple years, even modest renovations and it discourages homeowners from investing in the properties that they have. i travel up to the park every day with my son. i enjoy the park.
i use the neighborhood, i use the sidewalks there and i don't object to this project. so, i hate to see what are positive guidelines for the city turned into something that could be used by neighbors to inflict changes on people who are proposing renovations. thank you. >> thank you. next speaker. hi, board of supervisors. my name is josh davis. i've lived in san francisco since 1 79. i have two children. i live in noe valley and we go to buena vista park quite frequently. ~ 1979 i want to stay in san francisco. i don't want to have to leave a city because my family is growing, and my family is growing and i live in a relatively small house and i'd like to be able to remodel it. and i fear this might set a precedent where homeowners who want to do a relatively small remodel to accommodate a growing family will be subjected to an extraordinarily expensive process and i don't think it's fair. and i think the points have been made by many other
speakers along these lines and i'll just leave it at that, that i'm in support of these builders and their attempt to remodel their house. thank you. >> thank you. are there any other members of the public that wish to speak on behalf of the project sponsor? please step up. okay. seeing no additional speakers, public comment on that side is closed. let me ask the appellant if you'd like to use up to three minutes for rebuttal. yes, we would. thank you, president chiu. i'd ask the board to keep in mind here the standard of review before you. there are clearly arguments on both sides. the question is whether environmental review is required. a fair argument standard applies. that means if there is any evidence on the appellant side, any credible evidence that this project might have a significant impact, then the
categorical exemption is set aside. we heard from staff, staff's opinion about things. we heard from the project sponsors, their expert's opinion. but the opinions of your planning commissioners and the neighbors who -- all of the neighbors who actually live on this block are supporting the appellants here. the others that you heard of are from the other block. you have substantial evidence in the record supporting our position and that's what's key. the fear of a precedent setting project is unwarranted and i think -- maybe appropriately designed to influence this board, but it's just not true. the fact here are very unusual. going back to the planning commission transcript, i noted that commissioner antonini, it was stated by someone else here, perhaps the architect, that the project 10 years ago was designed to go down the hill. that was the agreement that was made, that they would go down
instead of up. so, now they've gone down and that was the agreement and now they're trying to go up again. and that's where we see the segmentation. i already explained that yes, normally things go forward, but in this case we have a segmentation that is undoing something before. guideline section 15064.5, c-e-q-a guidelines historic guideline, right, it does not require substantial evidence show that a resource will be de listed. that was incorrectly stated. i'm not sure if ms. tam said that, but certainly the project sponsor attorney did. ~ p [inaudible]. the test is whether a project may materially impair historic significance. it does not mean it's gone. and what you saw from the photographs and what you heard from the planning commission was that that they believe this particular addition that will block the character defining features of these roof lines of these homes will have an impact
on the esthetics of this neighborhood. and those esthetics are covered by c-e-q-a. a demonstrable esthetic effect is subjective and [speaker not understood]. the fact that staff may decide it's not significant, doesn't mean that that is, in fact, something that this board may accept. you must look at the evidence on the other side and it can be subjective. but that's that this may be a potential historic district and this may have an impact on that. those are all things in the environmental study and they just haven't even been looked at here. while this isn't a question of a property report, we showed you the site plans, the actual site plans that were prepared by the project sponsor in fact inaccurate. >> thank you very much. thank you very much. colleagues, any final questions to any of the parties involved today? okay. unless there is any objection, colleagues, at this time this hearing has been held and is
filed. [gavel] >> and the matter is in the hands of the board. supervisor wiener. >> thank you, mr. president. first, i want to thank all of the folks on both sides who came out today. i know sometimes our public process is not exactly the most user friendly in terms of people who all have busy and full lives. and i think the fact when we have people coming out particularly on both sides, it shows that everyone is very passionate about their neighborhood and passionate about our community. i remember approximately two years ago, a few months after i took office when we had the first c-e-q-a appeal from district 8, ms. tam also worked on that from ord street, which
was -- makes this appeal look completely harmonious and noncontentious, there was a huge turnout on both sides for that one. and i remember saying at the time that as a district supervisor, when you have lots of your constituents siding with lots of your constituents, it's a lose/lose for you politically it doesn't matter what you do. there are going to be people upset with you. and in a way, it's liberating because when it comes to c-e-q-a it's about applying the law. people are unhappy with you no matter what you do, it makes it easier to focus on applying the law. i also just want to acknowledge another very, very difficult thing about these kinds of appeals and it's very true about this matter, that, you know, sometimes we tend to when we look at the range of c-e-q-a
appeals, we talk about these are the big appeals and these are the really little appeals. and, you know, yes, when you're talking about the cpmcs and the park merceds and the treasure island and the mission bay kind of appeals, those are certainly very, very large projects that have significant and profound effects on neighborhoods and on the city. but i don't like referring to cases like this one or like ord street or other appeals we've had as little appeals. these appeals all affect people. and even if you're talking about a relatively small project in terms of a one-story vertical addition, you know, if the project doesn't happen, that has a real profound impact on the people who are living in the home and wanting to do expansion. they're going to continue to live in that home and they're not going to have that expansion. if you allow the project, you have a real effect on the
surrounding neighbors. and we all know, we all live in homes. when you have impacts in terms of physical changes on your next-door neighbor the neighbor behind you, it has a significant and long lasting permanent effect on the way that you live your life and the way that your house is situated in the neighborhood. so, although this might belittle, quote-unquote, in the range of our c-e-q-a appeals, these projects do have effectses on people, whichever way we rule. and, so, for me i do take these appeals very, very seriously however big or small they are. and i do think it's important out of fairness to everyone to be very, very careful and conscious about applying the standards of c-e-q-a. and i say that in contrast to the standards of a discretionary review. we are not a review body of the planning commission.